Apple says that the data is “collected anonymously in a form that does not personally identify you,” but for some reason we don't find this very comforting at all. [Good instinct ! - Kim]. There appears to be no way to opt-out of this data collection without giving up the ability to download apps.
Here's the full text [Emphasis is mine - Kim]:
“To provide location-based services on Apple products, Apple and our partners and licensees may collect, use, and share precise location data, including the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device. This location data is collected anonymously in a form that does not personally identify you and is used by Apple and our partners and licensees to provide and improve location-based products and services. For example, we may share geographic location with application providers when you opt in to their location services.
Some location-based services offered by Apple, such as the MobileMe “Find My iPhone” feature, require your personal information for the feature to work. “
I wonder how The Consumerist will feel when it figures out how this change ties in to the new world-wide databases linking device identifiers and home addresses?
The consumerist piece is dated June 21, 2010 9:50 PM, and seems to confirm that the change in policy has only been made public since Google's WiFi shenanigans have been discovered by data protection authorities… The point about “no opt out” is very important too.